The Africa Science Leadership Program, launched on 2 March, is the first of its kind in the developing world (see It will train researchers to lead complex scientific initiatives across disciplines and sectors, helping them to compete in global knowledge production.

A handful of institutions in Canada and the United States offer useful advanced leadership training for researchers (see, for example, M. Kvaskoff and S. D. McKay Nature 506, 159; 2014). The need for such programmes is more desperate in developing countries if they are to avoid falling further behind in an interconnected and competitive world (B. Slippers et al. S. Afr. J. Sci. 111, a0093; 2015).

The African programme will create nuclei for leadership development on the continent. Small groups of mid-career scientists will participate in the year-long training, which includes two multi-day sessions, ongoing peer support and mentoring in-between.